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After watching "The Godfather" for like the 5,000th time to get a feel for how compromises should work in the real world – “I'm a reasonable man,” Vito Corleone said, “and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make the peace” – we can say with absolute conviction that Indiana and Kentucky will play a basketball game this coming season.
How do we know this?
This game and series is too good to kill, and both sides know it. They are, you want to believe, reasonable men.
Only idiots would mess this up.
The people who run the Indiana and Kentucky athletic departments are not idiots.
Well, we can hope.
So even as all the public posturing between the two schools continues (Wednesday afternoon's released letter, courtesy of a Freedom of Information request by the Bloomington Herald-Times' Dustin Dopirak, from IU athletic director Fred Glass to Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart about a four-year compromise; Barnhart's Wednesday night released response shooting down that compromise then suggesting one of his own), they are inching closer to resolution.
In other words, go ahead and bet the kids' college education savings fund that the teams will play sometime next December at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the meantime, here's what we know:
UK coach John Calipari wants to schedule non-conference games in large neutral facilities similar to NCAA tourney sites to better prepare his “non-traditional,” “gold standard” program that relies on one-and-done players. He's not interested in a home-and-home series with Indiana (a cynic would say he's scared; he denies it). Last fall Calipari tossed around ideas of dropping IU, Louisville or North Carolina from the schedule.
IU coach Tom Crean wants the series played on campus sites, meaning Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena. He's not interested in neutral sites such as Lucas Oil Stadium. He wants to repeat the fan-friendly Assembly Hall experience that produced last December's epic Kentucky upset.
On May 3 the Hoosiers surprised UK officials by saying the series, which had been held since 1969, was over because, in essence, if the series couldn't be played on campus, if Kentucky wouldn't bend, it wouldn't be played at all.
This caused an uproar, and Glass and Crean took just as much heat as Calipari and Barnhart did, perhaps more.
One week later, IU offered a four-year compromise –- play the 2012 and 2013 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, the 2014 game at Rupp Arena and the 2015 game at Assembly Hall. Glass even offered to split the cost of a $100,000 buyout with UK's Dec. 8 game with Portland, or work out an arrangement with UK's Dec. 5 game against Samford to ease the financial burden on Kentucky.
It was a VERY reasonable compromise, so reasonable you wonder why it hadn't been offered before May 3.
But it wasn't, and that, according to Barnhart, caused complications.
Kentucky had moved swiftly after IU announced the series was over. It reached a two-year deal with Baylor – one year at Rupp Arena, one year at Dallas. It restarted a home-and-home series with North Carolina. It finalized dates with Portland and Samford.
It did all that, Barnhart said, before Indiana's May 10 overture about a four-year compromise.
Barnhart said Kentucky didn't want to back out on Portland or Samford so late in the scheduling process. He also said the Wildcats wanted to stick with just two-year contracts and that a four-year deal with Indiana would jeopardize its home-and-home series with Louisville.
The bottom line – Kentucky said no to the compromise.
Glass's letter unexpressed his surprise and unhappiness at that rejection. He said, “In other words, we were back to Kentucky's take-it-or-leave-it demand that we play only on a neutral court with no opportunities to play on our campuses in front of our students and other season ticket holders.”
Glass ended by saying, “Unfortunately, Kentucky's refusal to consider anything other than a two year neutral-site contract only based on your new “non-traditional” scheduling philosophy has doomed a series that should be bigger than that.”
Barnhart said UK was fine with playing at Lucas Oil Stadium the next two years, while continuing the discussion about a home-and-home series.
“We have held the last two games on our current schedule while continuing discussions with Indiana about playing this fall,” Barnhart said. “Dec. 15 and 22 are still options for the upcoming season and Lucas Oil Stadium is available for both dates. In the best interest of our fans, I would hope we can come to a conclusion to continue this storied series this December.”
Like we said, bet the kids' college fund that conclusion will be reached.
And if by chance they don't play and you have to explain to your family why college is no longer possible for the kids, well, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of this column.
And then bet the house on an IU-Louisville home-and-home series.